The damage he caused in my co-parenting relationship--due to jealousy and control issues--was bad. But, he also didn't want me to have any male friends in general.
He couched it in "protectiveness" with manipulative compliments. That he "knew how men thought." That I was "so hot and so nice" he didn't want me to be taken advantage of. That men "just want to fuck."
He told me a story about a conversation his father purportedly had with him and his ex-wife when they were first dating, encouraging them both to not have friends of the opposite sex. That it just leads to trouble. That there's no reason to have friends of the opposite sex once you're in a relationship. That it only makes your partner feel uncomfortable and threatened.
I remember telling him that I didn't think that made much sense. I argued that it didn't matter if every male friend I had wanted to get in my pants--I have a say in whether that happens or not. And I certainly didn't have that sort of interest in my male friends, so what was the big deal? Relationships are about trust. I told him I trusted him.
After all, his "best friend" was a female.
That's right. His best friend was a female whom I embraced from the very start, and by whom I did not feel threatened. I didn't insist that we not hang out with her, that he not text her or communicate with her. However, I was not afforded the same level of trust and respect.
He "urged" me to take down my Myspace profile. I did it. I wanted to prove my loyalty to him. I thought maybe if I did that, he'd see how serious I was about him. But that wasn't enough. He wanted to see my emails. He wanted to know if any man at any time contacted me.
One time not too long after I'd moved in, I was bathing my son and had left my email account open. I had nothing to hide. I didn't even think twice about it. Suddenly he appeared in the bathroom.
"Who is Alex Brady*?" he asked.
"A former co-worker and friend...why?"
"You had lunch with him the week after we met? Did you fuck him?" he demanded.
"No! He's married! I've known him since like 1998!"
"Why didn't you tell me about this 'lunch?'" He made those air quotes, as if I wasn't telling the truth.
"I don't know! You and I had just met. There was nothing to tell!"
"I don't want you talking to him. If he's married, he definitely wants to fuck you. If he contacts you again, I want to know."
The conversation didn't end there. He could never just let it drop. He made little comments about Alex for months afterward. Wanted to know details about what I knew about this guy and his life. He'd ask me many different ways about whether anything physical had ever happened. I had a guilty feeling over something that had never happened!
It really is the most frustrating feeling in the world to be accused of something you didn't do. I truly felt that he didn't believe me that I hadn't slept with this guy.
And, actually, Alex did email me subsequently. But you know what? I did NOT tell him about it. I deleted the email, and then deleted it out of my trash. That's how it went. I knew an email would create an "issue" between us, so it was easier to just delete. I was asked often if I'd received any communications from men. I always said no.
Eventually I gave him the passwords to my email accounts, thinking that would prove I loved him and only him and had nothing to hide.
No amount of reassurance was ever...I mean EVER...enough. Not ever.
*Real name has been changed.
Love and Support for Kate Ranta and Family